Hateful marriage equality debate sparks calls for rainbow crossings in the Blue Mountains.
The hateful rhetoric that was stoked by the highly controversial marriage equality debate in 2017 was one of the driving forces for a group of locals to mobilise and seek more visibility and acceptance for the LGBTQI community in the Blue Mountains.
The idea gathered speed and support by way of a Facebook post in a Blue Mountains community group following the encouraging reactions from other group members (over 400 positive Facebook reactions with only four negative reactions). This was enough to make John Dwyer, a founding committee member of Rainbow Committee Blue Mountains, realise it’s a “joyous sign that we have matured as an inclusive community.”
Sara Joyce, who is one of the co-founders of the group, said that the 2017 marriage equality debate had left a lot of bad energy in the regional community and that the proposed crossings would provide a bright splash of colour in these grey times, while also showing support for those in our community still doing it tough, three years after the damaging plebiscite.
While the initial discussion on Facebook garnered much positive support, an unfortunate act of ‘clickbait journalism’ meant that a positive article written by the local paper about the potential crossings was negatively altered and then attempted to be passed off as ‘satire’, which resulted in some committee members becoming victims of hateful online trolls from all over the world.
And that exact vitriol is another reason these rainbow crossings are such an important addition to the community.
Committee member, Shannon Goldenpaw, says that “the rainbow symbol is one that represents acceptance and inclusion for all, including non-LGBTQI people” and that seeing a rainbow crossing in a community signals that the location in which such a symbol appears offered support and acceptance to their LGBTQI residents and visitors.
A huge amount of work goes into putting something like this together for our community – it’s really not a case of randomly deciding to “put in a rainbow crossing.”
The amount of community consultation, collaboration with politicians from both sides of the political divide, red tape, not to mention dealing with the dark and scary underbelly of objectionable internet behaviour, means the organisers are hopeful that these crossings in Springwood and Katoomba, once approved and constructed, will be enjoyed by Blue Mountains pedestrians on a permanent basis.
The committee is working towards applying for a Road Safety Grant to assist with funding, for which applications close at the end of August with submissions to council expected to happen in September.